The Punch reports that some ministers who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan have warned President Muhammadu Buhari to give the former president his “due respect.” The former ministers said they had observed that the Buhari administration and members of the All Progressives Congress had been condemning, ridiculing and undermining the efforts of the Jonathan administration. Jonathan’s ministers said both the President and his party had also been rubbishing the integrity of the individual members of the past administration. A former Minister of National Planning, Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, said this on Sunday in a statement on behalf of other ministers who served under Jonathan.
But the Presidency, while reacting to the Jonathan’s minsters’ statement, on Sunday said Buhari’s war against corruption was not negotiable. Suleiman said the efforts of the Buhari government had been to portray all members of the Jonathan administration “as corrupt and irresponsible, in an orchestrated and vicious trial by the media,” which he said had created “a lynch mentality that discredits our honest contributions to the growth and development of our beloved nation.”
He said while he and his colleagues believed that each administration had the right to chart its own path, the Kwara State-born former university lecturer said the alleged vilification of the Jonathan administration was ill-intentioned.
The Buhari administration has alleged several fraudulent practices against Jonatha’s ministers, including a recent allegation that the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke, illegally took $6.9m from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to fund the bogus purchase of three mobile stages for Jonathan’s public appearances. The Suleiman statement partly read:
“We, the ministers who served under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, have watched with increasing alarm and concern the concerted effort by the Buhari administration and members of the APC to condemn, ridicule and undermine the efforts of that administration, in addition to impugning the integrity of its individual members.
“While we concede that every administration has the right to chart its own path as it deems fit, we nevertheless consider the vilification of the Jonathan administration, to be ill-intentioned, unduly partisan, and in bad faith.
“We are proud to have served Nigeria and we boldly affirm that we did so diligently and to the best of our abilities. The improvements that have been noticed today in the power sector, in national security and in social services and other sectors did not occur overnight.
“They are products of solid foundations laid by the same Jonathan administration.”
He said that contrary to what the APC and its agents would want the public to believe, the Jonathan administration did not encourage corruption, “rather it fought corruption vigorously, within the context of the rule of law and due process.”
“For the benefit of those who may have forgotten so soon, it was the Jonathan administration that got rid of the fraud in fertiliser subsidies, which had plagued the country for decades. This helped to unleash a revolution in agricultural production and productivity,” he added.
Suleiman added that it was also the Jonathan administration that supported the institutional development of strong systems and mechanisms to curb corruption in the public service and plug revenue leakages.
He listed these to include the development of the Government Integrated Financial Management Platform, The Single Treasury Account, and the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management Systems, in addition to the biometric registration of civil servants and pensioners which he said saved the country over N100bn paid to ghost workers and ghost pensioners.
Apart from that, he said that the Jonathan administration equally ensured greater transparency and integrity in the oil and gas sector by ordering investigations and put mechanisms in place to check the theft of Nigeria’s crude oil. He said:
“It was also under the Jonathan administration that a Nigerian Content policy was introduced, which opened up that sector to Nigerians in a manner that was not previously the case.
“It was also the Jonathan administration that mobilised and secured the support of our neighbouring countries to ensure a robust multinational response to the menace of terrorism and insurgency, resulting in notable advancements in the fight against terror.
“President Jonathan personally initiated the collaboration that led to this advancement and ensured that Nigeria provided the needed financial support for the Multinational Joint Task Force.
“It was the Jonathan administration that repaired and rehabilitated over 25, 000 kilometres of our nation’s roads. Nigeria also became a profitable and preferred investment-friendly destination. It was under President Jonathan, for example, that Nigeria’s electric power sector became more competitive and attractive to local and foreign investments.”
Suleiman added that the same administration promoted the rule of law, free speech, fundamental human rights, and a robust freedom of information regime. Apart from that, he said women’s rights to participate in public life and the Federal Character principle as well as other constitutional principles were also respected.
“No administration can be either completely bad or completely good. President Jonathan’s achievements in moving this country to greater heights deserve to be duly acknowledged. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to build on these achievements,” he argued.
He challenged Buhari to be fair and non-partisan in his anti-corruption crusade. Suleiman added that “the various lies and fabrications being peddled by some self-appointed spokespersons of the administration may entertain the unwary” but added that such sensationalism may achieve the unintended effect of de-marketing the country within the international community.
Suleiman said that he and his colleagues had reserved their comments until now in the hope that the euphoria that inspired the various attacks on the past administration would wear off and that reason would prevail.
“But we are constrained to speak up in defence of the legacy of the Jonathan administration, and shall do so again, for as long as those who are determined to rubbish that legacy, are unrelenting in their usual deployment of blackmail, persecution and similar tactics,” he warned.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, reacting to the Jonathan’s ministers asked the affected persons who he described as “members of the country’s latest trade union formation, the Association of Ex-Jonathan Ministers” to do a bit of self-reflection on the sort of government they handed over to Buhari on May 29.
He said such self-reflection would make the former ministers decide for themselves if it would have been right for any incoming government to ignore the issue of the brazen theft of public assets, which he said appeared to be the first of its kind in the country, He said:
“This war against corruption knows no friend nor foe. There is no intention to deny anyone of their good name where they are entitled to it and President Buhari reserves the highest regards for the country’s former leaders, including Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who he continues to praise to the high heavens for the way and manner in which he accepted defeat in the last election.
“That singular action remains a feat that has earned the former President and Nigeria as country befitting commendations all over the world, the latest coming from Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who visited a week ago. For the purpose of emphasis, the issue of fighting corruption by President Buhari is not negotiable.”
“It is sine qua non to the overall reconstruction of the economy and social systems, which suffered destruction and severe denigration under the last administration. President Buhari will not be deterred or blackmailed into retreat and surrender.”